Release Date: Sep 2, 2016
Record label: Daptone
The Frightnrs have made a splendid debut album, but it's an open question if listeners will be able to listen past the story behind it and hear it for what it really is. The story is a biggie: hailing from Queens, New York, the Frightnrs were a band that re-created the sound of vintage rocksteady and early reggae with striking accuracy and genuine sincerity. After the Frightnrs made a name for themselves on the New York club circuit, they were tapped to cut an album for Daptone Records, the celebrated retro-soul label.
Artists on the Daptone label have an uncanny ability to perfectly replicate the sound and feel of a bygone era. And while up to now that sound has largely encompassed mainly R&B and its secular and sacred derivations, with the release of the Frightnrs debut, they’ve entered the realm of late ‘60s Jamaican music. It’s a logical progression, given both reggae and rock steady’s origins in American R&B, and the parallels are easy to trace within the band’s sound.
Their album may be called Nothing More to Say, but no one in their right mind would want the Frightnrs to keep quiet.The band's new LP is a thrilling trip down memory lane. "All My Tears," with its richly ringing steel drum, is an undeniably catchy way to start the album off, harkening back to the height of rock steady, when the Wailers donned sharp suits for their black and white photos.That authentically yesteryear vibe is a welcome mainstay throughout the LP. "Trouble in Here," for instance, sounds like an impromptu backyard porch jam session some untold decades ago, what with its warbling harmonica and the gospel-infused harmonising on the chorus.
Non-Jamaican reggae has spawned some engaging hybrids – the Specials, the Clash, Fat Freddy’s Drop – but this quartet from Queens, New York, stay devotedly close to the languid but edgy sound of late 1960s rocksteady. Their debut album is shadowed by tragedy, lead singer Dan Klein having succumbed to neurological disease shortly after its completion. His keening falsetto is at the heart of the record, a set of elegant, tortured love songs that occasionally betray Klein’s anguish: “Pretending that I’m fine/ I’m lying all the time.” The production, by New York’s Ticklah, faithfully recreates the cavernous, minimalist sound of Studio One, with walking bass lines and larkish vocal harmonies recalling trios like the Paragons.